Selecting a PR agency

Shereen Shabnam

 

After spending 16 years in the Public Relations industry in the Middle East, I still come across established brands that do not include PR in their marketing strategies to stand out from their competition.

 

PR delivers value for money and when planned and done well, it is worth every dollar spent.

 

The first step is of course to find the right agency. Being a PR specialist and seeing the quality of work I receive as a journalist almost immediately determines if I will give my time to the PR executive or manager.

 

Selecting an agency at face value is no longer an option and the recent trend is that a lot brands contact trade journalists for the final decision on choosing from the final three selected agencies before appointing the right agency.

 

An established agency that has had a presence in the market for over ten years naturally is a more stable option. If I were to select an agency for my brand, I would look at the media relations team and their credentials first before moving to the next step. How long they have been with the agency and dealt with media in that specific industry is what counts.

 

Agencies fail to inform clients that the media relations is done by interns or executives who have zero idea on what the titles are about when calling media and often I get calls asking for coverage for a quarterly title two days after the press release is sent out. 

 

Brand credibility and brand image is built not just on the foundation of the product or service quality of the client but how it is communicated to the media and the public. Ensuring the front line team at your PR agency dealing with the media and believes in your brand is crucial.

 

Social media also allows for considerable brand reach in terms of PR and a PR campaign that goes hand in hand ensures maximum reach and impact. If your PR account handlers are not able to post your coverage online for additional mileage, then exposure is limited.

 

These days, brands have to be able to answer customer needs, whilst showcasing brand purpose and passion in an authentic and realistic tone and a PR professional or an agency can assist with this most effectively.

 

Even if you have a large inhouse communications or marketing team, PR can play an integral role and it is recommended to have expert PR professionals as part of the marketing team, either in-house or outsourced to a specialized agency. Due diligence is crucial to get the right agency on board.

 

 

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